How to Build & Negotiate Your Recruiting Budget

Get your recruiting budget approved with research & leadership buy-in

June 24, 2021

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As a recruiter, you probably enjoy working with people, helping them reach their goals, and building teams. Budgets might not be your favorite subject but they’re necessary to master if you want to be able to do your best work.

Whose responsibility it is to create the budget will vary depending on the size and make-up of your talent acquisition department. However, researching, planning, and drafting your budget should be a team effort. Not only is it a lot of work for one individual, but having a variety of perspectives will be helpful when it comes time to negotiate.

While you, a colleague, or your manager might draft the initial budget, it will need to be approved by an HR executive or a finance and accounting executive depending on the size of your organization. Executive buy-in will be key to moving your plans forward. Use the strategies below to help you successfully research and negotiate a budget that helps your organization reach their hiring goals.

What’s included in a recruiter’s budget

Research. Before you start your budget, make sure you have a solid understanding of what your department’s needs are. What improvements would you like to make and where would financial support help?

  • Assess the past year and current state of your department. How many hires did you make for the organization? How large is your team? How long does it take on average to fill a role?

  • Talk to hiring managers in different departments. Find out what their hiring goals and timelines are in order to determine your own.

  • Demo new products. Is your current HR tech stack fulfilling your needs? If there is a tool on the market that would improve your workflow, it’s time to work it into your budget now.

Once you’ve done your research, set your goals for the following year along with a timeline. Build a budget with line items that will help you achieve your goals.

TIP: Use Fetcher’s Funnel Forecasting Calculator to help determine how many candidates you need to source and email in order to reach your goal number of hires.

What budget items are common for recruiters?

Every recruiting budget will look different depending on your organization’s size and industry. While specifics will vary, these are common line items for all TA budgets:

  • Job boards and advertising

  • Assessments: Many companies use general aptitude or skill assessment tests to score candidates instead of relying solely on resumes and interviews. These can be bought through consultancies.

  • External Recruiting: Recruiting agencies and software (like Fetcher!) that you may use

  • Career page upkeep

  • Salary cost of your hiring team

Whether in the budget itself or in the appendix, make sure to break costs down into cost per candidate, cost per click, cost per unit. It will make a larger expense seem less prohibitive.

How to negotiate

Every recruiting budget will look different depending on your organization’s size and industry. While specifics will vary, these are common line items for all TA budgets:

Act early.

Start negotiating with higher ups sooner rather than later. Go in assuming certain line items won’t get approved. You want to have enough time to go back to the drawing board. When your budget is due will be decided by your higher-ups but, it’s up to you to submit your budget ahead of its due date and ask for a meeting to discuss upon submission.

Be ready to back up all your numbers.

Show you’ve done your research by being able to justify why you are asking for the amount you’re asking for. Your budget, and your explanation, should show why your team needs every dollar listed in order to do their jobs.

  • If there are items that are not essential to job function like continuing education or team building activities, make sure you explain the competitive advantage or additional benefits this will bring to your organization as a whole, not just your department.

  • Know every detail inside and out and be ready for any questions! Practice!

  • Run a rehearsal meeting with colleagues or friends so you’re prepared.

Highlight where you are saving money.

Perhaps you’ve consolidated your recruiting software down to one stellar product (we have one in mind…). Make sure your managers know your team isn’t frivolous with spending.

Close with the projected ROI.

Demonstrate how investing more in the talent acquisition team will lead to more money for everyone.

Share KPIs to keep your team accountable. As an example, illustrate how hiring 25 new employees in the next year will lead to an $X increase in revenue, if the proposed budget is approved. Let management know that you’ll be ready with quarterly check-ins to ensure you’re on track and staying on budget and pace.


Creating a successful budget starts before you put pen to paper. Take time to research what your company needs and plan for the future in order to estimate future costs as accurately as possible. Be ready to sell your budget to executives by tying your department’s expenses back to ROI. Once your budget is approved, check in throughout the year to showcase how you’re meeting your goals and management’s investment in your department are impacting the organization overall.

One simple, time-saving way to gather recruiting metrics is to use software that will increase your ROI. Fetcher’s full-service recruiting automation software cuts sourcing and outreach time by 80%, leaving your team free to focus on candidate engagement and strategy. Which, to bring it back to the big picture, improves efficiency, employee engagement, retention, and ultimately, profitability. Of course, a boost in profitability leads to happy management and hopefully, an easier path to approval for your future recruiting and hiring budgets.

Check out our other blog posts for more talent acquisition tips and insights into recruiting trends.

About Fetcher

At Fetcher, our mission is to introduce companies to the people who will help them change the world. Our full-service, recruiting automation platform automates those repetitive, top-of-funnel tasks, so you can focus more on candidate engagement & team collaboration. Simplify Sourcing. Optimize Outreach. Hire Top Talent. Learn more at fetcher.ai.

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